As The Intercept reports, the tech industry’s “overwhelming response” to Homeland Security’s “Extreme Vetting Initiative” open house was so intense, they had to add an extra day to their convention to make room for everyone who wanted to attend.
The Intercept acquired sign-in sheets from the two-day Homeland Security event at a hotel in Arlington, VA that shows multiple representatives from megacompanies like IBM and SAS, the latter of which is headquartered in the Trump-voting state of North Carolina.
According to the report, a Q&A with Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that the agency considers being legally necessitated to work only with public records to be their “biggest constraint,” but that they are looking to work around that.
“The prediction is that in the near future there will be legislation addressing what you can and can’t do,” an agency representative said in response to a question about potential ACLU challenges (like one that occurred with a similar program five years prior). “We will continue to do it until someone says that we can’t.”
Using automated software, ICE hopes to build a database of immigration applicants that “will determine and evaluate an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society as well as their ability to contribute to national interests,” and can foresee “whether an applicant intends to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.”
As the report noted, attendees were told Homeland and ICE want to build a software that “must be capable of scraping not only ‘data in various law enforcement databases’ and ‘other government agency computer systems’ (including FALCON, an immigration database created by Palantir).” The system’s programmers, in turn, must ensure the software “will extensively exploit anything that can be found on the public internet in order to provide ‘continuous vetting’ of foreign visitors for the entirety of their stay.”
“Essentially,” the report concludes, “anything online that doesn’t require a password would be fair game under the Extreme Vetting Initiative.”